When I was a little girl, I liked going through my parents’ and siblings’ vinyls. In my brother’s collection I discovered Led Zeppelin, Queen, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, etc., and when I was a little older, aged 11, I came upon the first Doors album. I thought the guy on the cover was cute, then listened to it and was mesmerized – I’m not kidding – by his baritone voice and the songs and the lyrics. Simple melodies that had a vitality, and no one could have brought them to life like Jim Morrison. The Doors are without a doubt one of the best bands to come out of Los Angeles. I listened to more of their albums and pretty soon I knew all the songs by heart. It was a vry distinct sound, and L.A.’s atmosphere seeped through.
I was also fascinated by Jim. Obviously. (I liked bad boys from a very young age.) I wrote poetry at that age (I wish I’d kept them) and found poetry in his lyrics. I also loved movies and wanted to attend UCLA Film School like Jim and Ray.
One of the songs that touched me most was L.A. Woman. It encapsulates the city and its ambience. It captures the city’s sadness lurking beneath the happiness of its sunshine, a city full of angels who have demons.
Are you a lucky little lady in the City of Light
Or just another lost angel
City of Night
I wonder what Jim would’ve been like today on what would’ve been his 71st birthday (which is also the day John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980). Perhaps he would’ve become a producer. Or left music to become a novelist. Or rejoined his former band mates from The Doors on some pivotal date to do a few reunion shoes. Nah, scratch that. I think he was smarter than the record company’s marketing department. He’d be more likely to do a reading of his latest literary œuvre at Shakespeare & Company.
Jim died in Paris and is buried at Père-Lachaise cemetery, which you can virtually visit here. My dad’s spirit is somewhere in there as well. Maybe they’re sharing a whiskey together.
Show me the way to the next whiskey bar…
On Sept. 11, I was hired by The New York Times Paris bureau. Two hours later, the world changed. So did people’s lives. A friend of a friend was on the plane that hit the first tower.
The first time I returned to New York City post 9/11, it shocked me not to see the Twin Towers in the distance on my way from the airport. But I was glad to see the city brimming again with hope and life and creativity and all of its usual craziness.
There is nothing more resilient than a New Yorker. And they have the best accent.
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York,
Glam metal/sleaze rock band Blackrain started out in Annecy, France in 2002 and was relatively successful on an “underground” scale, releasing a couple of albums before appearing on a French talent show last November and getting signed to Columbia Records at Sony. But the massive PR campaign had begun prior to their appearance, and it has just escalated over the past eight months.
And to celebrate the release of their new album on June 10, the aptly-titled It Begins, produced by none other than the legendary Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith), Blackrain played an acoustic showcase at their launch party at the new Parisian rock ‘n’ roll bar, Le Titty Twister (taken from the film From Dusk Till Dawn).
The quartet already has a very young mass following and they look quite young themselves. Apparently the average is 28, but the drummer looks about 14. OK, 20. My friend Cylew and I were talking with Mr. Douglas when the band arrived to hit the stage. “Bonjour!” they greeted us in high-pitched, hey-we’re-pals voices. Polite… On stage, while they are accomplished musicians, they lacked a certain presence that Mötley Crüe, W.A.S.P. or Poison, the bands they try to emulate, have. They lacked attitude, that’s the problem. If you’re going to emulate, go all the way. They look like a high school band playing dress up. They can certainly write a tune, evidently honed to sound like the glam rock of the 80s, but they’re not badass like those rockers. And that was evident in their interaction with the audience.
I understand a lot of their friends were present, but joking with them in a “hey, let’s play some video games!” from the stage before singing some sleaze rock tune made them sound a bit, well, amateur. Yet they have quite a few years’ experience opening for top bands. I guess I’d have to see them in a real concert setting to decide.
Then there was a “technical” glitch. Mid-song, their manager’s three-year-old grandson climbed the stage with his little guitar and started mucking about. It was cute but not in that context. The manager was clearly having an awww moment and pointing to the little boy, but the band was concentrated and it’s a good thing they didn’t see the distracting kid.
Overall, you need to cultivate an attitude and keep their distance to a certain extent while you’re performing. That’s when you’ll learn the art of rock stardom. Because clearly that’s what they are being marketed as.
When my friend John informed me back in April that The Stone Roses were going to play in Paris, I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to see this seminal band. And when I found out it was at La Cigale, I was ecstatic for not only is it a beautiful and legendary venue, but it’s also intimate. I’ll never forget the Red Hot Chili Peppers showcase I attended back in December 2011. There’s something very special about seeing an arena or stadium band playing in a small venue. The energy is different, almost palpable. And it was the same with The Stone Roses.
John and his friend aka my new friend Paulos came from England to attend the show on June 4, the band’s second night in Paris, along with hundreds of other Roses fans. Yep, most of the attendees were in fact British or Irish. (A couple of my French friends who are fans of the band found out about the two shows only after I tweeted a picture. Great promo job, Polydor and Radical Productions…)
Opening act Little Barrie kicked off the evening. As cliché as this may sound, they play an honest, unadulterated rock and are on the rise.
Then came The Roses.
Kicking off the set with “I Wanna be Adored”, they were “adorable” throughout the powerful two-hour set. It was the 90s all over again for the duration of 17 tracks. Mani (I like his polka dot bass guitar), Reni and guitar hero John Squire are brilliant musicians, while Ian Brown is quite the showman. He interacts with the fans, does funny dances and even wore John’s hat before “Love Spreads” and handed it back to him. (Some overzealous idiot fan tried to steal it from him.) Check it out in this video and enjoy the blurry photos slideshow below! (Sorry, too many people dancing like crazy. Brit fans are the best!)